You don't have to put dirt in your mouth to know it tastes bad - some things you just know. Or you are at least willing to trust the experience of others who have tried it. I treated the #GoogleManifesto in the same way at first. I didn't need to read a long, rambling document to know that it's contents are not good. But I did need to read it to provide a perspective on what to do about it. (Sigh - sometimes work is hard.)
The questions I've heard that people want answers to are:
So let's tackle these questions one at a time. First, Google should deal with the engineer in accordance with their company policy on hostile work environments, inappropriate company conduct, misuse of company communications and a whole host of other policies this man violated. That question is simple and apparently, already dealt with.
What isn't simple is what to do about all of the people within Google who feel the same way because of course this document is a sign that others at Google have similar feelings about women in engineering and women in general. If other men didn't feel the way this Google engineer feels, the current president of America would be a woman.
Many have already discussed this engineer being symptomatic of all of Silicon Valley and I wonder when are we going to stop speaking in absolutes. All of Silicon Valley does not feel this way, just as all men at Google don't agree with this man's opinions. But unsubstantiated opinions speak the loudest and drown out the voices of logic and reason and facts. Because facts don't seem to matter anymore.
Somehow, we've begun living a reality television life where salacious, controversial and loud trumps regular, reasonable and level-headed. And as long as we continue to support and clamor for excitement over actual reality, situations like this will continue to dominate the news and cloud our judgment.
Bonus question: What do we do about it - the situation, not the engineer? This is the question all diversity, equity and inclusion practitioners have been asking for years and there is no single solution that will work for everyone.
After reading the #GoogleManifesto, the only conclusion I could come to is that this engineer is misguided. I say this knowing there are thousands of people who agree with him and will have something to say about it. All I ask is that rather than commenting negatively, watch my course on unconscious bias. It gives you an idea of where I'm coming from and you might decide awareness of unconscious bias isn't actually bad.
Interestingly enough, the Google engineer doesn't want mandatory unconscious bias training. Why would you actively shun development and training that can help you communicate with others and open your mind to different perspectives? I guess that's a question for another time.
This engineer's outlook while misguided does bring up interesting points about intentions and oppression, but they are covered in his own bias and that makes it really difficult to read. It would have been a better course of action for this engineer to bring up these points and feelings in one of the many open discussions Google has about this subject. But for some reason, he felt his commentary wouldn't have been listened to, which is different than it being rejected.
His commentary would have been rejected because he begins his 'manifesto' by writing "I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes." And then spends ten pages demonstrating his first sentence is false. He tries to use science to back his ideas in the same way people tried to use science to argue the world is flat. However, he doesn't know that he wouldn't have been listened to. And therein lies the difference.
We believe listening to someone means we have to agree with them and the person speaking believes that a rejection of their view point means they haven't been heard. Neither of those is true.
When I am running a training or workshop, the key item I discuss is communication and I do not envy the person that had to have a conversation with this engineer. I maintain that communication is a key tool in the fight for a better organizational culture, but that only happens when each side can be honest about their feelings and then work towards unity. As we spend more time championing diversity, we encounter increasing resistance and that can only be dealt with by first acknowledging those feelings exist in the first place.